Black Caesars on their chrome chariots

A photographer captures the rides, rituals and rowdiness of New York's African-American motorcycle clubs.

Published May 18, 2001 7:00PM (EDT)

Brooklyn Kings: New York City's Black Bikers | By Martin Dixon | powerHouse Books | 139 pages | Photography


Commercial photographer Martin Dixon -- he lists the Ford Foundation and Guinness among his clients -- also teaches documentary photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His recent book, "Brooklyn Kings: New York City's Black Bikers," is a study of a number of motorcycle clubs and the members' interests, which, as Dixon explains, "range from social dances, road trips, and trophy parties to bikini bike washes, birthday strippers ... weekly fish fries and 'Crab Nights.'" The bikers are also, of course, fascinated by motorcycles, as is Dixon.

"I began this book as a social document of a dying breed of man -- The Lone Wolf, The Biker Nomad, The Urban Gladiator, Black Caesars, and Crooklyn Cowboys," he writes in an essay parked in the center of the volume. "What I have photographed is in many ways the best of what we were when we were just being ourselves. This should not be lost ... eventually a time will come when we will no longer be able to sling a leg over our chromed chariots. Natural forces are at work. Age sets in ... and when that day comes, as it surely must, we can look at this book as our family album [of] nearly fifty clubs and thousands of members who form the nucleus of the Black biker circuit."

Dixon ends his essay like so:

The sign on the door at the Black Falcons Biker Club:

What you see here
what you do here
what you say here
stays here.

Well now I'm fucked.


Urban gladiators
A gallery of photos from Brooklyn Kings: New York City's Black Bikers

By Photographs by Martin Dixon

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